Chirpify, a payments firm that uses Twitter, and whose clients include hip hop label Rhymesayers, aims to make paying other people as simple as Tweeting.
"Bands or musicians, businesses, or anyone can create a listing that goes out over Twitter of something that's for sale, and a buyer can reply on Twitter and make that purchase," says Chris Teso, founder and CEO of the Portland, Ore.-based Chirpify.
Chirpify links users' Twitter and PayPal accounts, which enables financial transactions. It just received just 1.3 million in Series A financing from Voyager Capital; investor Geoff Entress; Andy Liu, CEO of BuddyTV; Rudy Gadre, a former Facebook executive; and HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes. Chirpify is targeting the space mined by firms like Square, GoPayment from Intuit (INTU) and Bump — using mobile phones and other digital devices to enable small business transactions, political donations and charitable contributions. Another new firm, Belgium-based Paycento, also lets firms accept payments through Twitter and Facebook.
To use Chirpify, users sign up and authorize PayPal, which manages the back end processing for the transactions, to receive and send money to and from the user's PayPal account. Once that authorization is set, Chirpify has programmed specific commands as triggers for financial transactions. There are four such commands right now: pay, buy, donate and gimme. Once the command is entered, the money is taken from the users' PayPal account and sent either through a direct message or e-mail with a download link for verification and record keeping. "These are social transactions, and it's frictionless, you don't have to leave Twitter," Teso says.
One possible use is political campaigns, which have become a hot spot for new mobile payments innovation, with Square and other firms using payment readers attached to smartphones to enable payments at public events. Teso says his company is approaching campaigns to use Chirpify in the same way, only with a direct payment via a tweet. "Think of Barack Obama sending out a Tweet to a million followers, who can reply 'donate' to send in a donation," he says. Teso says beyond political campaigns, the firm also hopes to partner with banks to offer the service as a payments value add.
At Rhymesayers, rappers and other acts signed by the independent Minneapolis-based hip hop label sell music and other merchandise to consumers. Chirpify is also behind "Twitter Commerce for Musicians," a platform that gives artists a Chirpify dashboard to which they can upload music and tweet a link. Consumers can acquire music by replying to the Tweet with the word "buy."
Chirpify has several options, including a basic commerce service that carries a 4 percent commission; an enterprise service with a variable price; a 2 percent flat fee for direct payments; and a donor service that includes variable options to collect information on donor, which would enable compliance with campaign finance laws in the case of political donations. Security is in line with PayPal's protocols.
Adil Moussa, a senior analyst at Aite, says the idea of using social networks to enable payments is still new and there's not a lot of activity right now, but that should change given the natural, and corporate, fit between the payments industry and social networks. "Everybody has been waiting for Facebook to develop their own solution. We will be seeing Twitter as an avenue for payments — the co-founder of Twitter is also the co-founder of Square (Jack Dorsey). It only makes sense to put those two together."